Taking your car into the garage can be a real risk; corrupt garages and mechanics can overcharge you for parts or repairs, or can include extra costs that weren’t covered in the original quote. Unfortunately, many of the people targeted by these kind of scams are women, and particularly young female drivers, with the belief that they won’t be aware of what counts as essential costs helping to raise costs. In this context, it’s important for anyone to ensure that they’re not being ripped off by following some of the steps below:
Get a Recommendation
Check with your friends and family to find out whether a garage has been reliable for them in the past; have a garage lined up before you have to pay for repairs, as this will prevent the dangers associated with finding a garage at short notice.
Give Mechanics Notes
This means writing down what needs to be done to your car, and being prepared to negotiate over it. If possible, get a mechanic to sign a written contract, and keep a copy for yourself to prevent them from doing anything extra.
Check Quote Prices
Make sure that all charges for your repair work are included with an original quote; this should include VAT and any administrative costs.
Take Pictures of Your Car
If you’re unsure about a garage, take plenty of pictures of your car before taking it into the garage; these can then be compared when you get the car back to see if any problems were there beforehand.
Be Aware of Small Problems
Don’t leave small problems to build up – deal with scratches, engine problems, and anything that you can fix yourself before it can become more serious.
Don’t be Afraid to Challenge Mechanics
As long as you’ve done your research, you are within your rights to challenge mechanics on quotes. Don’t just accept their word on how much something should cost.
Get Guaranteed Parts and Services
Make sure that your parts and services are guaranteed by the garage – if they won’t provide this service, always take your business to another one.
Consider Your Local Dealership
Rather than going down an independent route, consider using your dealership for any repairs that are covered by your warranty; you may also be able to get a rental car for the time that your car is in the shop.
This means getting several different quotes from a few garages; written estimates can be compared and used to see whether a garage will be competitive in terms of price.
Check Prices Online
Take the time to check the actual price of quoted costs from a garage before signing your car over – this can only take 10 minutes or so of your time with a phone or tablet at a garage. Again, don’t be afraid to drag out a process if you’re unsure – rushing into a contract can be an easy way to end up with a very expensive bill for the work done on your car.
About the Author
Rob James is a mechanic and a kit car enthusiast. His favourite car is the MINI cooper One Countryman. Rob can be found blogging about general maintenance, driving advice, and the different car rallies he attends.